Colorado Historic Casinos

Historic Casinos in Colorado

The days of mining gold from the Rockies are mostly behind us, but luckily, you can still strike it rich at one of Colorado's historic casinos. Since it was partially legalized in 1990, gambling is only allowed in three towns in Colorado: Central City, Black Hawk, and Cripple Creek, but in each of those towns are some of the most unforgettable gaming experiences you’ll find anywhere. Try your luck in one of Colorado’s casino towns and see if you can strike gold.

The Historic Casinos of Clear Creek County

During the mid-19th century, in a small patch of mountainous land less than fifty miles from Denver, a very lucky prospector named John H. Gregory found gold dust while panning in Clear Creek, in a gulch now known as Gregory Gulch in his honor. The area became known as the Clear Creek Mining District, and so much gold was mined from the hills and mountains there that it was given the illustrious nickname “The Richest Square Mile on Earth.” Within a few short months, the area's population grew to over ten thousand people, all searching to make their fortune. The towns of Black Hawk and Central City were founded not long after. They were wild places, full of desperate and hopeful miners looking to get rich, with brothels and saloons galore. Fistfights, knife fights, revolver fights, and other types of violence abounded in a type of free-for-all that wouldn’t look out of place in a Western film. So maybe it’s no surprise that today, these towns are places where locals and visitors alike let loose and do their best to seduce Lady Luck. At first glance, downtown Central City still looks like it’s stuck in the 19th century, with its brick-paved streets and charming old buildings. On Eureka Street, in fact, someone from 100 years ago could time travel to the present day and only find one building missing. But the street view aside, what's inside those buildings has truly changed. Since the 1990s, many of the historic buildings in Central City have been converted to casinos, with a wide array of slot machines and video gambling machines, as well as traditional gaming like poker, blackjack, craps, and roulette. Just down the road, the tiny town of Black Hawk has similarly embraced gambling, with casinos that look a bit more modern from the outside but are just as expansive on the inside.

historic casinos at Cripple Creek, Colorado

Cripple Creek Casinos

Drive a few hours south from Clear Creek County’s casinos, and you’ll find Cripple Creek, another historic casino and former gold mining town near Colorado Springs. The Wild West flared up like a bright light here, but when the Gold Rush died down, the town was nearly abandoned until the state gave it the green light to operate casinos. Like Central City and Black Hawk, you’ll find all the luxuries of modern gaming combined with the gritty charm and excitement of the Old West. Casinos are housed in historic buildings in a quaint town with a wild past. Cripple Creek is home to twelve casinos which range in size, theme, and game options on the floor. Everything from a classic game of blackjack to the most innovative new video games can be found in Cripple Creek, and based on numbers from the Department of Revenue, you might find the slot machines to be a little looser here and the paybacks a little higher than at other casinos.

historic casinos Sky Ute Casino Resort

American Indian Historic Casinos in Colorado

There are two American Indian gaming areas in Colorado, both of which are in the southwestern part of the state, in the Four Corners region. In stark contrast to the historic casinos, buildings, and converted interiors that make up the casino floors in the old gold mine gambling towns, the Four Corners casinos are huge and modern. Sky Ute Casino Resort is located in Ignacio, Colorado, and it’s owned by the Southern Ute Tribe. It has nearly fifty thousand square feet of gaming space, a hotel on-site, and a venue for some big names in entertainment, especially in sports like MMA and boxing. Ute Mountain Casino is located in Towoac, Colorado, and not only does it have a huge offering of games and entertainment, but it also has a lot of cool cultural history. Once you’ve had your fill of slots, bingo, and Kino (or maybe if your wallet needs a bit of a break…), you can check out the on-site pottery factory or the Ute Mountain Tribal Park or go for a drive along the Trail of the Ancients Scenic Byway for a gorgeous look at the surrounding area.

by Emily Krempholtz

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